Once we acclimated to the late night lifestyle of Spain and the constant schedule of breakfast, touring, lunch and tapas, touring, wine and tapas, siesta, cocktails, dinner at 11.pm. more cocktails, drink and repeat, we began to enjoy the Spanish version of the cafe lifestyle. A highlight of our exploration was a small restaurant near the university area called Origin 99.9%. This unassuming cafe and gourmet shop met the first requirement of the day-no American tourists. We sat next to young families and three delightful woman in their late seventies having either a beer, a glass of wine or Campari in the middle of the sunny afternoon. A second rule of the trip was no menus with pictures, but we quickly discarded this policy when a beautifully designed menu-magazine was placed in front of us. Neither Jim nor I read Spanish much less Catalan but we were able to figure out what was going on here. All ( okay 99.9%)of the the food served was Catalan and was organic.
We were reminded how the simplest of ingredients; fresh toasted bread, rich olive oil and roasted tomatoes could be such a memorable dish. Olives, ham, sardines, Olive Oil, cheeses all from a section of Spain and brought in fresh daily. The company also works to promote the export of products from this region. Anything served on bread was magic- the simplest Coca de tomaquet i olives, was the best.
While the outdoor seating is preferred- the inside of the restaurant was charming- the front dedicated to a gastronomy shop complete with tasting area. Everything from Capers to chocolates in modern packainf and clean presentation.
As in all in Spain- wine was exceptional--most bottles were under 12 Euros. Typical wines to try are the rich red Priorat and the white staples from Torres, such as Vina Sol and the fruity and crisp Esmarelda. Cava is the sparkling wine of the region.
We were surprised to find out that this was one of three shops in Barcelona. Our traveling companions were set to meet other friends from the states at the restaurant nearest the hotel. The waiter helped them to figure out they had crossed wires and the friends were at one of the other restaurants. He called to confirm which restaurant where they were dining, and then walked my friends to the other location- lots of service for a country that doesn't encourage tipping. Franchise opportunities exist in Europe for this special concept- lets hope they make their way to the states.